A Fuel Consumption Simulator for Teaching Efficient Driving Practices 2008-01-1291
A fuel consumption simulator was developed to help students in driver's education courses identify driving practices that maximize a vehicle's fuel economy. To maintain the interest of teenage students, a computer program was developed as a first-person driving simulation and was made to resemble the video-game driving simulators that are available for recreation. To keep the costs of using the simulator reasonably low for high schools, the simulator was developed for use with Windows based computers and off-the-shelf driving controls for video games. While the simulator was created for use with off-the-shelf equipment, the simulator uses an incompressible flow model of the intake and exhaust processes with realistic transmission and torque converter models to predict fuel consumption and vehicle performance. The engine and transmission models were calibrated using manufacturer reported engine performance data. The resulting simulator operates quickly enough to provide visual continuity of the simulation and captures the performance of a mid-sized sedan with a five-speed, automatic transmission. Students using the simulator are asked to complete a road course consisting of approximately 0.5 miles of in-town driving and 1.0 miles of interstate driving. Following completion of the course, operators are shown summaries of their velocity and fuel economy versus position and are shown their fuel consumption statistics for the course. The fluid flow model, the torque converter model, transmission model, and vehicle dynamics model used to create the simulator are discussed. Examples of how the summary screen is used to the help the simulator user identify better driving behaviors are also presented.